How to start quilting with rulers

Quilting rulers are extremely useful when quilting, and I use them regularly on whole-cloth quilts.

With so many choices on the market, it can be difficult to decide which one to buy.  Over time you will collect many rulers but there are a few that will make creating quilt motifs with rulers a joy.

Choosing rulers

Straight quilting rulers

A ruler to start with should be one that offers versatility but functionality.  For this reason, a straight ruler with a curve such as Tramlines is a good option.  Use this quilting ruler for stitch-in-the-ditch on moving machines.

It has features such as: 

  • Straight edge. 
  • Needle stops
  • ⅛” line markings for accurate and narrow lines.
  • There are multiple angle lines.
  • It has a curved edge.
tramlines quilting ruler

To work on curves, you should either have a few arcs, circles or an appliqué guiding quilting ruler like Keyhole, or Handi Quilter’s Versa Tool.  Note that the straight edge on the latter is very short, and that can get frustrating when working a lot of straight lines.  It also doesn’t have ⅛” line markings for accurate and narrow lines.  

choosing rulers

Unusual shapes

A few shaped quilting rulers will help you create intricate designs.  Here’s an example of a heart shaped ruler.  Heart shapes don’t only create hearts. Consider the curve, the angle, and in this case the outer edge that can be used as a straight ruler too.  The curve could give you feather spines and plumes.  Leafy shapes are also possible with hearts.

Heart ruler set

Curved quilting rulers

French curves have always been important in sewing and is also super useful on whole-cloth quilts.  Frenchie is excellent for use on whole-cloth quilts for: 

  1. Consistent feather spines
  2. Unusual, curved shapes like domes
  3. Interesting parabolic curves

Wavy quilting rulers also fall in this category and with multiple reference lines on the ruler you’ll be able to create echoes, mirrors and overlapping lines with relative ease.

Making waves quilting ruler

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